GESIS Training Courses

Scientific Coordination

Sebastian E. Wenz
Tel: +49 221 47694-159

Administrative Coordination

Jacqueline Schüller
Tel: +49 0221 47694-160

Course 5: Questionnaire Design

Course duration
Mo: 10:00-17:00 CEST
Tu-Fr: 09:00-16:30 CEST
General Topics:
Course Level:
Software used:
5 days
Students: 500 €
Academics: 750 €
Commercial: 1500 €
Additional links
Lecturer(s): Prof. Dr. Marek Fuchs

About the lecturer - Prof. Dr. Marek Fuchs

Course description

Please note: This class is an ON-SITE class. On-site participation at KOMED MediaPark Cologne only!
Designing questions and questionnaires is broadly described as an important step when planning a survey. However, little advice is provided on how to phrase individual questions and response categories and how to design a good questionnaire as a whole. This course will approach questionnaire design by means of two strategies:
(1) On the one hand basic concepts relevant to survey measurement will be discussed (e.g. mode differences, question-answer-process, satisficing, social desirability) to make participants aware of the mechanisms underlying survey measurement.
(2) On the other hand, participants will be introduced to results of field-experimental studies testing various aspects of survey questions and a questionnaire as a whole (e.g. question wording, response order, visual design of a question). The discussion of these studies will highlight the implication of various design aspects of a survey question for the answers provided by respondents.
Based on these two pillars of knowledge the course aims to educate participants in their professional reasoning when designing survey questions and questionnaires. Based on the theoretical concepts and experiments discussed in the lectures, participants will be guided and supported in designing and testing topical survey questions during practical sessions and by means of assignments.
The examples discussed in the course will mainly be taken from surveys of individuals and households; the business survey will not be covered. The course is not restricted to a specific survey mode; examples will be taken from face-to-face surveys, telephone surveys, web surveys, and mail surveys. Coverage issues, sampling, weighting, nonresponse, and other aspects of survey design will not be covered.
For additional details on the course and a day-to-day schedule, please download the full-length syllabus.

Target group

Participants will find the course useful if they:
  • plan to or are about to conduct a survey and would like to strengthen their ability to design the questionnaire;
  • would like to supplement their initial experience in designing questionnaires with practical advice based on a sound theoretical basis concerning the underlying mechanisms.

  • Learning objectives

    By the end of the course participants will:
  • have an overview concerning the various components of survey data quality in general and questionnaire quality in particular;
  • understand the structure of a survey question and have improved their reasoning about the design of its components;
  • be able to design simple survey questions of various types, to conduct a pre-test and to combine them in an integrated survey instrument;
  • understand the cognitive processes underlying survey measurement for the various survey modes.
    Organizational Structure of the Course
    This is a five-day course with a total amount of 30 hours of class time. Participants can expect a mix of interactive teaching (3-4 hours per day), practical sessions and exercises (1-2 hours per day), and an opportunity for individual consultation (1 hour per day). Lectures start with an outline of one particular problem or aspect of questionnaire design. Subsequently, a series of studies from the research literature will be used to discuss the current state of the art concerning the problem addressed in each session. In the practical sessions, applications of this scholarly knowledge to specific topical questions will be discussed.
    Participants should be prepared to spend an additional 1-2 hours a day for reading and daily assignments. During practical sessions and while working on assignments a teaching assistant will be available for hands-on support.
    Every day participants receive an assignment that they are expected to work on during the afternoon. Participants are expected to upload their individual assignments every night for written feedback. Once during the course, participants are expected to present their assignments in class.
    Participants can either bring their own project that they want to use for the assignments, or they are provided with literature from two substantive areas to choose a topic for their assignments.


  • Basic knowledge in quantitative social science research methods is required.
  • Basic knowledge concerning survey design and data quality is advisable.
  • There are no statistical prerequisites.
    Software and Hardware Requirements:
  • Participants need a laptop computer for performing the practical exercises and assignments.
  • Participants need office software on their laptops.
    Covid-19 related regulations for on-site classes
    Although there are currently no legal requirements due to the Covid-19 pandemic for participation in our on-site training events, we suggest that you adhere to the recommendations given on the following site:
    Please note that regulations might change on short notice depending on the nationwide or local state of the pandemic. We therefore suggest that you only register for an on-site class, if you are fully vaccinated (according to EU law) by the time the class starts and are willing to wear a mask in the GESIS building and in class.
    Participants from abroad should make sure that they understand and fulfill the requirements to enter Germany as summarized on this website.
    Please find more general information on our Covid-19 info website and carefully read all emails we send to you. Thank you, stay safe and healthy!